This wonderful Pathe newsreel dates from 1948 andincludes shots of both the men's and women's militia (the latter more accurately the Women's Self Defence Corps) parading and being inspected by Nehru during a visit to Srinagar. This is likely to date from early May when there was a week of celebrations of Kashmir's 'independence', meaning the ending of princely rule. The commentary goes as follows:
'The people of Kashmir celebrate newly won independence. They are rejoicing at the cutting of the maharajah's oppressive powers, tempered by the realisation that Kashmir is the stumbling block to peace between India, represented here by prime minister Pandit Nehru, and Pakistan, who sent no representative. The frontier battles have been going on incessantly, and the war that has even put the women of their state under arms occupies the minds of all on this independence day.
'Addressing the crowd, Pandit Nehru speaks of the plebiscite by which Kashmir will be able to affirm its accession to the Indian Dominion, It was this provisional union that last year precipitated the frontier incidents. As in the world's trouble centres. it's the fanaticism which makes soldiers of women which defies solution by the peacemakers.
'A UNO commission is now on its way to the valley of Kashmir, the scenic beauty of which is world famous. Hopes of a settlement seem dim for in a country where even young boys are put in uniform and given arms, peace must remain remote.
'A river procession is the climax to the seven-day long celebration. The frontier war recedes as Pandit Nehru accompanied by Sheikh Abdullah, Kashmir's prime minister, says farewell to the people of India's youngest state. If the fighting spreads to this peaceful valley, Hopes of Indian unity will - '